Genetically Engineered Trees
American chestnut trees may be on the rise again due to a genetic engineering breakthrough that protects them from a debilitating fungus. If the transgenic chestnuts can be successfully integrated into woodland ecosystems, similar genetic engineering methods may be able to reestablish other trees.
In Resources magazine, RFF Associate Research Director and Fellow Juha Siikamäki discusses the potential for bioengineering to create a “blight-resistant American chestnut.” This was the topic of an RFF First Wednesday Seminar that featured a panel of experts involved in the Forest Health Initiative. Watch the video from the event to learn more.
The debates continue about the carbon emissions—or carbon neutrality—of burning biomass for fuel. “The [United Kingdom’s] government's own research has shown that using wood from whole UK conifers results in an increase in emissions of 49 percent compared with coal.”
However, RFF Senior Fellow Roger Sedjo says that the emissions should be measured using a life cycle assessment—a method that measures the environmental impacts of a product over its lifetime, from raw material extraction through disposal. In new research, he examines three different approaches to life cycle assessment and finds that, “given sufficient time and assuming that complete regeneration replaces harvest, all three approaches will generate no net emissions for their respective forest since each becomes a fully regulated forest in which growth equals harvest.”
Responding to Ecological Loss
In a recent article for Resources magazine, RFF Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth Jim Boyd notes the difficulty of applying traditional market-driven methods to ecological issues, which can lead to underinvestment in information about the best ways to mitigate ecological loss. Last week, RFF hosted a seminar on such limits to ingenuity, focusing on the role of new technologies (such as genetically modified organisms), the capability to substitute for nature, and the ethics of certain innovations to limit ecological loss. Watch the full video from the seminar here.